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Hello from aspiring animal novelist!

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by Mbwamwitu, 6 Sep 2018.

  1. Mbwamwitu

    Mbwamwitu New Member

    6 Sep 2018
    I'm a lifelong animal nut from India with roots in East Africa, although I've been living in DC for the past few years. Growing up, I was a bit of an anti-captivity absolutist (despite playing too many hours of ZT2), but that has changed as I've grown and learned the real ways of the zoo world. I spent most of last year as a Policy Fellow with WCS's team in DC. Discovered I could do a lot more for wildlife by supporting WCS/AZA programs than yelling at people outside Mumbai Zoo (which, btw, sucks).

    Lurking these forums (especially the National Zoo thread) made me want to bite the bullet and join! I run or photo-walk through the National Zoo at least twice a month... I'm leaving DC forever in 15 days, but I will hopefully be able to check out some of India's better zoos once I move there.

    Also: I've been working on a novel idea on the low for the past few years, and it's starting to take real form! I have written an obscene 300,000+ words which I'm now editing and revising down to a more manageable manuscript.

    It's all animal-centric, with a leopard, tiger, wolf and sloth bear as the main characters. If that sounds a lot like The Jungle Book, it should - my book is a modern Indian conservation-centric, slightly sci-fi, fantasy-flavored riff on Kipling's classic.

    Every now and then I find myself in need of reference/help with obscure animal situations that are near impossible to research, e.g. how would two wolves and a striped hyena transport the corpse of an Asiatic lion across a river? How much human machinery could a sloth bear operate with its tongue and lips? What would it look like if a leopard tried to imitate the fighting style of a wolf? Etc.

    Zookeepers are awesome - I ask them these and some significantly stranger questions, and they're always willing to brainstorm and debate and discuss. Most of the time, I stroll over to the National Zoo and ask the staff there in person. So I figured, why not seek the wisdom of the online zoo community once in a while too? :)

    Thanks, and glad I've risen from my lurker status to accept full posting powers! I shall wield them with care. BTW, some zoos I've visited:

    - Mumbai Zoo (through my childhood in the early 90's; miserable experiences, and things are only a little bit better now. If you're in India, take your business to Mysore, Nandankanan or Delhi instead.)

    - Smithsonian National Zoo (holler if you want to go and need company anytime in the next 14 days!)

    - Uganda Wildlife Education Center (in 2009; I have vague memories of joining a birding group in the area but we strolled into the park for a bit - I remember bushpig, servals, shoebill and white rhinos.)

    I've also spent a considerable amount of time in wild protected areas in India and Uganda. Some of the rarer mammals I've seen include aardvark, caracal, striped hyena, giant forest hog, dhole, honey badger and the Indian subspecies of gray wolf. I love Carnivora!
    m30t, RedPanDan, KevinB and 2 others like this.
  2. Daktari JG

    Daktari JG Well-Known Member

    27 Jan 2014
    United States
  3. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

    10 Feb 2009
    Arizona, USA
    We don't have any regularly active members from India, so you will be a great addition! Also glad you learned to take a balanced approach when it comes to captivity. Perhaps you will have opportunities over the years to inform people who have the anti stance that you once had. Coming from "their side" I think gives you a lot of credibility in the debate.
  4. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

    17 Sep 2017
  5. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Well-Known Member

    12 Aug 2008
    California, USA
    Welcome to Zoochat. Your work as a WCS fellow sounds very interesting, as does your novel and your travels through the wild areas of India and Uganda.

    Are you optimistic about the long-term viability of wild spaces in India, especially for the big animals like the large carnivores (tigers, dholes, etc.), elephants, and rhinos?
  6. KevinB

    KevinB Well-Known Member

    11 Apr 2015
    Heist-op-den-Berg, Flanders
    Welcome to Zoochat, Mbwamwitu.

    I'm glad to hear that you are one of the sadly few anti-captivity people who have had the audacity to truly examine and evaluate their position and to change their position based on new information. I applaud your for that and if you want to tell us more we will certainly read with interest.

    Your conservation work, novel writing and wildlife travels also sound very interesting and I think we wouldn't mind hearing more about those around here. Also, having read some about the plight of wildlife in India recently I think it would be interesting to hear perspectives on that from someone who knows that country.
  7. TheWalrus

    TheWalrus Well-Known Member

    8 Sep 2017
    Brampton, Ontario, Canada
    Welcome to ZooChat!